What workers can learn from animals

There are always business fashion terms that have been seen as the holy grail for some time. Balance is one of them. It seems that we strive for a perfect balance in everything we do: we strive for a balanced diet, work and private life must be in balance, even our emotions must be balanced.

Sometimes we look close, and then the next moment we get frustrated again because we’ve become “out of balance.” Madness, according to ranger, TV personality, and author Arjan Postma, with whom I was rambling on the Eilandspolder near his hometown of Driehuizen. People have always believed that there is such a thing as a natural balance. But when something in nature begins to approach balance, it usually means that it is dying.

Balance is like a death sentence. I immediately think of the so-called “estrus” that we humans risk entering when so much of our lives become predictable. However, we assume that there will come a time when everything will be as it should be.

According to Postma, this is a way of thinking, especially in the Netherlands, about ourselves and nature. “We are used to running everything in the Netherlands,” he says. Large parts of our landscapes are man-made. It’s great that we can enhance something, but we also have to learn to let nature take its course again. Nature becomes poor from too much management.

He compares it to parents who want to protect and control their children too much. Your child will not recover from this either. They should be able to experiment and this can motivate you as a parent, while you make adjustments now and then. Life goes through trial and error and always responds to situations that arise.

moving forward

Rather than seeking balance, Postma advocates keeping in motion and embracing change. Because it’s not balance, but dynamics that are the foundation of a healthy landscape – and a healthy person. Refers to the reed collar along the trench. – Take the sugar cane. It can grow in many places and withstand most natural disasters. This is not because it is stable or balanced, but precisely because it can move well. Reed leaves can rotate 180 degrees around the stem. When there is a storm, the stalk turns its leaves in the direction of the wind.

The diverse and dynamic nature reserve is also more resistant to changing conditions. While the large trees standing alone on the road or in the meadow catch all the winds and fall, the forest and reeds remain standing.

leading ant

Philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote Man as a Thinking Reed. Man is nothing more than a weak reed, but a reed of thought. (…) Even if nature were to crush him, man is still higher, because he knows the conquest of the universe over him. The universe knows nothing of it.

Postma perceives in this way the way we think about nature as we have done for centuries. We have seen animals as beings that act only instinctively. On the other hand, man was intelligent and thus stood above other beings.

We now know more and more about animal behavior, and see that it is much more complex than previously programmed instinct. Nowadays, we no longer want to feel elevated above nature: we want to get closer to our ‘own nature’ and see nature as a source for understanding and legitimizing our own behaviour.

“It is not my intention to find evidence of why people do things a certain way. Above all, I hope to inspire: It is also possible.

Postma also sees curiosity about animal behavior growing. It invites learning from nature and animals. “It is not my intention to find evidence of why people do things a certain way. Above all, I hope to inspire: it is also possible. His book title story How can a crazy ant change the worldIt is an analogy to a workplace.

In that story, Postma describes how worker, pioneer, and novice ants are found in an ant colony. There are by far the most worker ants. They only walk the scent trails found in their ant colony. But when a disturbance occurs, such as a tree falling and robbing an anthill of daylight, the worker ants are of little use. If they continue to follow their path, they will continue to build a house in an unfavorable place. This is where the leading ant comes into play. A rare but indispensable type of ant. Dare to get off the beaten track of scents and explore new territories. “Sometimes it takes a long time for someone else to follow,” Postma says. “Just like people who can walk around with a good idea for years until someone believes in it.” In the end, a few “fashion pioneers” stand among the ants, who follow the pioneer. And after these wonderful ones, fans follow.

new role

Postma also dedicates an entire chapter to moving on. In the Western world, he says, there is a strange notion of this stage in a woman’s life: her time is up, her job will be complete. But in nature there is no such thing as being transformed and still living. “Nature is not kind to this,” he says. If you no longer have a mission, you no longer have the right to exist. In fact, you are eating your children’s food and thus being a direct competitor. Some animals, such as salmon and male bees, die immediately after mating. Simply because they have more value for future generations of the dead than for the living.

Over 55? Men in front of class and women in power!

Reason enough to look at metamorphosis in humans with completely different eyes. According to Postma, we can already use our shifting hormone balance in a new role. “Where males in nature are often the protectors of the herd, the older males play a more nurturing role,” he explains. On the other hand, females often take on leadership roles after relocation, such as the grandmothers of elephants, who guide the herd and assist in their life experience. “Population aging is not a problem, but a solution,” Postma says. Over 55? Men in front of class and women in power!

Nature knows no boundaries

It was the end of the afternoon and we were leaving the owner of the Eilandspolder in the Postma truck. We see from the dam the contrast between the prairie, which is naturally formed on the one hand, and the rectangular prairie on the other. According to Postma, only a few species of fish live in the trenches on the reclaimed side. On the other hand, it is a paradise for meadows and waterfowl like the black-tailed grouse, lapwing, wigeon, teal and rare marsh birds like myrrh and reeds. The more space you give to nature itself, the more diverse the species becomes. And according to Postma, an area with a lot of diversity is best able to withstand changing conditions.

Can there be a lesson in this for our policy makers in the field of asylum and refugees? He laughs: “Yes, it can be. Nature knows no boundaries anyway. Nor do humans. What if Africa becomes unlivable? Then our human race must move with this change. The whole world is our home.”

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